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Women have their say at Google’s Cultural Institute in Paris

The Centre Pompidou’s curator Camille Morineau has organised a series of talks and hopes to one day create a ladies-only archive

Frida Kahlo at the Detroit Art Institute, Michigan, 1932. Photo: Guillermo Kahlo | Museo Frida Kahlo

What can the experiences of women working in the arts offer women in engineering and vice versa? The first in a series of roundtable discussions starting today at the Paris headquarters of Google’s Cultural Institute hopes to answer this question.

In the lead up to International Women’s Day (Saturday 8 March), Google has invited Camille Morineau, the curator behind the Centre Pompidou’s “Elles” (2009-11), a two-year-long installation of women artists from its collection, to organise the talks. While working on the exhibition at the Pompidou, Morineau says, “I realised that a lot of women’s work was not well documented. I wanted to keep working on a project that would group together information and archives about women artists, and I thought the best vehicle for that would be the web.”

Morineau knew that the Google Cultural Institute, which opened last December, was created to reflect on the relationship between art and technology. After discussing a programme with them, “we decided on a series of roundtables to discuss the similarities [between the fields], how their histories can merge and how they can learn from each other,” she says.

The first event reflects on the history of women in these two fields from the late-20th century to the start of the 21st century. It will include talks by historians, scientists and artists, including the French photographer Valérie Belin and the Argentinian artist Marta Minujin, as well as a 45-minute performance by the Guerrilla Girls.

There will be “a lot of facts and numbers put in context,” Morineau says. The Guerrilla Girls are a good way of conveying “dramatic information”—and, she adds, “they are funny”.

The second session, taking place this summer, “will be more about the solutions that have been found”, Morineau says. And the final product will hopefully be a new web project, making her dream of an archive of women artists a reality.

Meanwhile, on its online platform, the Google Cultural Institute has created a string of digital exhibitions celebrating women in culture. Among them are selections from the National Museum of Women in the Arts, the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum, and the Museo Frida Khalo, as well as historical photo-essays, including “This Mad, Wicked Folly: Victorian American Women”, curated by Kathryn Gravdal for the Meserve-Kunhardt Foundation and “The Struggle for Suffrage (1867-1928)” organised by English Heritage.

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10 Mar 14
14:3 CET


Finally there is some move to document Women artists world wide. We are slowly becoming a very significant part of the Art world. When I represented the United States at a Sculpture symposium in China (2011). The US council General drove 3 hours to meet me for the formal sculpture installation ceremony. He was surprised to be meeting a Female Sculptor of Indian ethnicity representing the USA. The archetype of a Male Caucasian Sculptor was what he was expecting. This general profiling is not unusual but a common trait. Women are not usually taken seriously in the field of art. It is a lot better than a few decades ago but equality is far from achieved. Do visit my website: www.shohini.com

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